Thursday, July 24, 2014

To Hell or not to Hell

Dear Misfits,

The Misfits at our meeting . . . concluded that Charles Williams is an intense, imaginative, often baffling author.  He was a member of the Inklings, the group of creative Oxford Christians of the 1930s and 1940s that included C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Though he excelled in many literary genres, Williams is best remembered for his poetry and his original fiction.  As regards his fiction,  Descent in to Hell is the second novel we have read; we read All Hallows Eve last year (October, 2013)  We conclude that Descent in to Hell is the better novel.

As told in the novel, the "descent" in the title happens to an ordinary (if extraordinarily selfish) historian named Wentworth, whose daily choices to cheat on the truth slowly but surely lead him into a terrifying state of isolation and egotism. Heaven, by contrast, is increasingly inhabited by the novel's heroine, Pauline Anstruther, who learns to face her fears and to love the truth exactly as it is.  In the end, Pauline finds salvation while Wentworth is destroyed psychologically and physically.
Descent into Hell is not an easy read. Although we recommend the novel, it definitely needs to be read:

(1) Repetitively (more than once)
(2) Not rapidly. Read it slowly as it is not “popcorn fiction”.
(3) With access to Google to reference obscure facts and numerous historical characters.
Pax Christi,
 Misfit Buzz

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